World Lymphedema Day

World Lymphedema Day


Hi, I’m Michele Cardoso, Clinical
Specialist, Radiation Therapist. Lymphedema is a persistent swelling that
may happen after cancer treatment to the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes, vessels and
tissues form the lymphatic system which works with the circulatory system to
maintain fluid balance and help with the immune system. Lymphedema appears as a swelling, usually in a limb next to where the nodes were
removed. People notice an unusual swelling or jewelry feels tighter or
footwear feels uncomfortable. It’s important that you address these
symptoms as early as possible since early intervention helps to make the
condition much more manageable. There are many things in your power to do to help
you manage lymphedema. The number one thing is skin care. Unfortunately,
lymphedema opens you up to the possibility and risk of repeat
infections to the skin called cellulitis. By keeping your skin clean and
moisturizing you’re able to help your skin stand up better to infection. The
lymphatic system is a pretty challenged system to begin with. The flow of lymph
fluid through the body is pretty sluggish and it really depends on you
and your movement to keep it going. That is why exercise is really an important
thing to add to your lymphedema regimen. So, there are lymph specific exercises
that help keep the lymphatics moving and draining and there’s also general
exercise, which I will emphasize as important in terms of your overall
well-being and ability to cope with lymphedema. Combining deep breathing with exercise you get greater benefits to the improvement in the flow of the lymphatic
fluid. It’s recommended that you keep your weight down so your body mass index, which is a ratio of your height and weight, keep that within 30. Treatment for
lymphedema involves manual lymph drainage which is a specialized massage
done by a lymphedema therapist, which involves a very light touch. What it does,
is it finds new channels for the lymph to drain. Compression is also another
form of treatment for lymphedema. Compression involves bandaging special
sleeves or stockings that help to provide a consistent even pressure along
the entire length of the limb. This helps drain the lymphatic fluid along. It’s important to see your doctor to rule out other causes of
swelling. Also, see a lymphedema specialist who is certified in decongestive therapy. You should see the letters C D T after their name. There is
always research being done and new surgical techniques emerging to help
manage lymphedema better. Until then, skincare, exercise, lowering your body
mass index, and seeing a lymphedema specialist are your best ways to manage
lymphedema.

One thought on “World Lymphedema Day

  1. Thank you! I've a girl friend with massive lymphoedemia. She wears for her whole body special dresses to comprime her body. Ste says she can't lose weight! You say it's so important. She gets more and more weight. What's wrong?

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